Louisville Head Football Coach Bobby Petrino recapped last week’s NC State game, previewed Virginia and heaped huge amounts of praise on his defense & Lamar Jackson.

(Opening Statement)

“I was really happy with the way our coaches prepared our players and the way our players prepared and practiced and came out and performed. I thought overall it was maybe our best performance of the year. Defense came out and did a great job of getting turnovers, getting the offense short fields, stopping their run, put a lot of pressure on them. Offensively, I thought we really came out and executed well. The first drive, Lamar was very, very accurate. We got some run after the catch and then we made a nice touchdown run and scored in four plays on the first drive. So I knew we were ready. I felt like Thursday’s practice that we were ready to play just because of the focus and intensity that our players had. I think we’re getting better in special teams, so it was good to see that. Blanton obviously did a great job kicking field goals, but the operation we improved on so that’s a great thing. Now we need to get ready for our game at Virginia. Back on the road, got to do a good job in practice this week, got to do a good job traveling, and get up and play another noon game. I think our players will be excited about it.”

(On need to make statement in games with playoff rankings coming out)

“No, we just want to go out and play well. I think one of the things that we’ve really tried to harp on with our football team is let’s not worry about the scoreboard, let’s do a good job in the process and playing your best and getting ready each play and executing your job on each play and then the scoreboard takes care of itself. I’ve liked the way our players have handled that. I think they’ve worked extremely hard at it and I think we’ve seen our effort grades get a lot better because really what we are focused on is one play at a time.”

(On Ohio State losing and coaches having an emotional reaction to it)

“I didn’t. I can’t speak for the other coaches, but we’re just trying to get better and playing the game that we get to play. I think that’s the one thing is that we have to understand that the game we can play, we need to enjoy it and have fun doing it and go out and play our best.”

(On what he likes about his defense)

“We’re doing a really nice job of stopping the run. I like the way our front guys are playing because besides defeating blocks, we’re able to make tackles and get production which a lot of times as a defensive lineman it’s hard to get that kind of production because you’re just trying to keep guys occupied and let the linebackers make plays, but they’ve been able to defeat the blocks and make the tackle which is something that has been very good for us. Keith Kelsey continues to run the show out there and Stacey Thomas is a playmaker whether it’s covering or running to the football or playing on special teams. I mean he makes a lot of plays throughout the entire game. I think our secondary has really got the communication that we need and we’ve been playing, for the most part, error free in the secondary and playing with good technique. They really shut them down the other night. That first half was a very dominate performance by our defense.”

(On what makes Jaire the cornerback that he is)

“I think that just the combination of his skills. He’s got long arms; he’s got really quick feet. Jaire is a smart player, so he always has an understanding of what’s going on out there. He’s got recovery speed, so even in the Clemson game he was actually beat on the play but he recovered and made the interception. He’s got great hands. We tell recruits all the time that Jaire was a great wide receiver in high school, even played some wildcat quarterback, and we all wanted to recruit him on offense and defense and he wanted to be a corner, so we put him at corner. He’s just got a great combination of being very smart and being very talented.”

(Any comment to what led to all those interceptions on Saturday that you all had?)

“On the interceptions we got?”

(Yeah)

“The first one, Trumaine (Washington) just made a great break on the ball. Actually recognized the route and it was a little bit of an arid throw because he had guys in his face as he threw the football. The one that Greenard got was just a great job by our execution of the defense and the defensive call got presser to one side and he thought he was going to throw a hot throw to a drag and Greenard clicked out and hit him right in the chest. We need to teach how to carry the ball in his left arm so he doesn’t fumble it after he intercepts it, but what was the third one?

(Stacey)

“Ah, yes. He knew what route was coming and the ball was tipped. I was hoping we would get a couple touchdowns on the interceptions. Looks like we were close on both of them.”

(You are one of 4 ACC teams in the top 11 of FBS. What is your take on ACC defenses? Is it kind of an overlooked aspect or does it not surprise you?)

“Well, I think we are really good on defense and I do think that because of Lamar and how dynamic our offense has been this year and your scoring points that people like to talk about the offense. I think our defense of players understand and I tell them every day that we score points because our defense gets turnovers and gets short fields and scores and our special teams. It’s all about the team and when you score points, it’s the team that scores points and that it very evident the other day in the first half. We had 44 points and our defense held them to 54 yards and we had the ball for almost the whole time. I think we are very good on defense.”

(Should it (College Football Playoff) go to an 8 team playoff? Any thoughts on that? Do you think it will and your general all thoughts?)

“Those are things I really don’t think a lot about. Maybe in the off-season you sit down and think about it. I always liked it before we had the playoff. I thought about all the controversy is what grew college football. It is what made college football go to it’s all time high. It’s on who won and who is in what bowl game and all that. Then we have the playoffs and it was a little strange that you keep four teams and five conferences. The math doesn’t add up real well there, but I think it is locked up for a while for four, but you all think that more than I do, particularly at this time of the year. We are just really focusing on the game we have to play and the preparation for it and try to find a couple of hours of sleep and get up and prepare for the next day and third downs and fourth downs and how we can get off the field on defense and score on offense.”

(If talked to a month from now, would you be in a more political mode? A campaign?)

“Campaign for what?”

(The playoffs)

“Oh, for an eight game playoff?”

(For your presence in the playoff)

“Yeah, I think it will take care of itself. I don’t think anyone is going to care what I have to say, whether we are going to get in the playoffs or not. Let’s go out onto the field and let’s try to preform very well and show the world we are a good football team and hopefully it all will take care of its self the right way. Like I said before, last week I think there is a lot of football to be played out there. There is still going to be a lot of things come up. There is going to be upsets, and we will see where we are at.”

(Lamar said Saturday that his favorite pass he threw was a post to Staples. Was there a pass or two that showed you his growth as a passer in the pocket?)

“I mean he was very good at throwing the ball. We went into the game saying we needed to throw the football to win the game and all we did all week long was run that and all week long we practiced it and repaired it. We then come out and throw three straight passes. He hit Coles hands, perfect throw and then the next throw he threw a deep out, where they don’t defend the field to James. The perfect throw and I thought Jaylen did a really nice job running the ball. We learned on the first. After our first complete pass to Cole, we said we had our post there, so lets call that here and in one of the next series go that opportunity. We call the post. Lamar hit him in stride. Perfect throw. To me that was the best throw. He hit them in stride and he caught it. Although the one in the endzone was good too because he had to get rid of it really quickly, snap his wrist and fired it in there.”

(Were you always confident he would develop in that type of passer?)

“Yeah, like I said, that first or second day he was here, I remember he snapped his wrist and threw the ball and I was like oh wow. This guy can really snap his wrist and throw the ball. I always thought as a quarterback coach, that’s the number one thing you have to do is snap your wrist and you can throw the ball with your wrist not with your arm.”

(So, his development as a passer is more about knowing when to when and not to run and running the offense?)

“Yeah, I mean he had a number of things we worked on technique. Mostly with his feet and getting his drops correctly and timing with the routes and make sure his lead shoulder was in the right position. Then last year you throw him in there as a true freshman and things are going fast and moving and his instinct was to run. So we worked on trying to keep our vision down field, feeling the rush and moving and making throws and being a thrower and he has gotten more and more accurate and being able to keep his focus down the field. I thought the other day our pass protection was very good because we had room and our guys up front set the pocket firm and our tackles widened it and I always feel like when you have room that you should be real accurate throwing the ball and that paid off the other day.”

(As his skills developed, how was your relationship developed?)

“He is a fun guy to coach. He is pretty good. We have a good time together and we can joke around with him a little bit. He knows when I’m serious and when I’m not. Like at halftime, we just happen to be walking out onto the field and I think it was Joey Wagner or somebody was talking and he (Lamar) was walking next to me and I said, ‘and if they even knew you couldn’t throw the ball before you got here,’ and he was just like looked at me like, ‘alright coach.’”

(Is there more give than take now?)

“I wouldn’t say give and take. We have a good time. We can smile, and he is so fun to coach. He is a guy who listens to you, and he contains what you have to say and he tries to go do it, but also he makes me laugh sometimes. I just try to hide it.”

(Have you improved his grasp of the offense? Are you still adding things or are you content where you are?)

“We continue to add things each week, you know when you, we don’t add like go into the game with more plays, but we might you know, hey this week this is the emphasis, so we want to add this play but we’ll remove another play so that we don’t you know get too much offense you can only practice so much so that’s a big part of it, but we’ll, like the touchdown to Jaylen was a new play for that game. The concept was the same, but it was different formation, different route on the backside, and a way to attack one of their players.”

(Is that a reflection of his improvement or standing of the position, willing to put in work?)

“Yeah, his grasp of the offense, yeah his grasp of the offense, his ability really to picture what you’re saying and then carry it over onto the field, and he’s been really good with that, he really knows the offense, you can talk to him on the sideline and he’ll picture what you’re saying and go out and do it.”

(As this season has gone on, have you noticed defenses trying more gimmicks or things to try and throw you off?)

“Yeah not so much gimmicks but different philosophies for our game, like they’ll do things different than they have in previous weeks, or, and most of it is designed to stop the running of Lamar, the, what they’re calling the option, and what that does for us is it allows us to throw the ball more and get more man coverage, take advantage of our ability to throw the ball and that’s why we opened up the game the other day with three straight passes.”

(Do they do things differently than they’ve done in games previously?)

“Mostly, yeah.”

(Do you find out pretty quickly what they’re trying to do?)

“Yeah, we have to go to the sideline and make some adjustments and figure out exactly what they’re doing, but a lot of it has to do with how they’re going to fit their safeties into the run game, what coverages they’re going to be able to do while they do that.”

(How are those things spotted, is it someone in the booth who radios down, is it you seeing it on the sidelines?)

“Combination of everything, you know, our ability to know what we’re looking for, the communication from upstairs, Coach K, Lonnie, Nick, you know we, we try to do a lot of work on the sideline, when the defense is out on the field, you know that’s always been a philosophy from way back that when the defense is out on the field, we’re working, we’re over there with our players, and if you want to watch the game go buy a ticket.”

(Bobby, how much time have you lost on self-scouting, looking at your own tendencies, especially with 7 games on tape?)

“Yeah we do that every week. That’s kind of the starting point of our game planning, we’ll have self-scouts sitting right there next us, for a number of reasons, we don’t want to forget what we’re doing well, and my dad’s philosophy is still there which says “do it until they stop it,” so we’ll continue to do that, but then we want to know situation-wise, you know what we’re doing in certain situations, formations, what we’re doing, what we do with motion, run pass, most of it is tendencies, run-pass, so we understand what they’re seeing from what we’re doing, and sometimes we’ll mix it up, and sometimes, like I said before, we don’t really care, 3rd and 8, we’re at home, we’re throwing the ball.”

(Coach K mentioned earlier and a couple weeks ago talking about maybe a forgotten guy in blocking Atkins can you talk about what he has brought to this offense this year especially the other day.)

“Yeah really to the team, you know he is on every special team that we have. He does a great job. Every guy on our team respects him. He’s tough and physical and just goes out and works hard. He allows us to get into our short yardage run packages and some of our 1st and 10 mix up run packages. He really knows the offense and knows what he’s doing and does a great job of blocking. For a full back the first thing you have to do is have speed through the hole as if you have the ball so that you create another hole for a running back and he takes a lot of pride in it and he does a great job and sometimes it’s not that many plays each game but it’s always a critical play.”

(Bobby, how do you keep this teams edge after a game like that?)

“We just have to come back and work hard. You know challenge their maturity. We have to count on leadership from within the team, and I think our guys are hungry and we just need to stay hungry.”

(How does it speak to how far the program has come since 6 wins, bowl eligible? We don’t talk about that anymore. It used to be a big deal now it’s like the bar is higher right?)

“I mean it seems to be a little higher now so that’s good. That’s what we want. You know we are where we want to be, but we are striving to get to the next step and we just have to play each game with our own focus and concentration and execution, so we can continue to move forward.”

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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